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Mendenhall Research Fellowship - Research Opportunity # 17-14 Using paleomagnetism to understand the tempo of hazardous volcanic and neotectonic activity
Paleomagnetism can provide critical constraints on the eruptive behavior of volcanoes and on the extent, magnitude, and timing of deformation in active tectonic terranes. Understanding the hazards posed by volcanoes requires characterizing their behavior, including quantifying the timing and magnitude of past eruptions in as much detail as possible. Comprehensive histories of hazardous volcanoes in subduction environments (e.g. Cascades and Aleutians) and magmatic plume environments (e.g. Hawaii, Yellowstone) have shown that volcanoes commonly erupt in brief episodes. In many cases, temporal clustering of eruptions has been identified by absolute chronometers (e.g., 40Ar/39Ar dating), but these methods cannot distinguish whether eruption episodes occurred over timespans of thousands of years or tens of years. Deciphering the frequency, clustering, and duration of volcanic eruptions is essential to understanding and evaluating potential volcanic hazards and, when coupled with stratigraphic, volumetric, and compositional data, to understanding fundamental magmatic processes. Paleomagnetism utilizing paleosecular variation of the geomagnetic field is the only tool available that can constrain prehistoric eruptive events on time scales of decades to centuries.
Volcanism and tectonism are commonly linked. Locations of volcanoes are typically fault-controlled such that an understanding of both local volcanic and regional tectonic environments is essential to evaluating seismic hazards. The applications of paleomagnetism are broad and lend themselves to a variety of potential research areas including using paleomagnetism to enhance our knowledge of volcano-tectonic linkages. We welcome proposals on topics such as characterizing the frequency of eruption of the abundant small volcanoes along the Cascades arc axis, or improving our understanding of the frequency, timing, and duration of magmatism at high threat volcanoes (e.g., identifying brief episodes in the growth of South Sister volcano near the rapidly growing city of Bend, OR, or evaluating the apparent episodic behavior of Yellowstone caldera lavas). The well-defined stratigraphic control provided by laterally-extensive Columbia River basalts provides a research opportunity in constraining magnitudes and rates of deformation to evaluate potential seismic hazards in the forearc and Yakima fold belt of the Pacific Northwest.
The successful applicant will work with experienced geologists and paleomagnetists based in Menlo Park, CA, and with chronologists who are focused on improving the dating of volcanic rocks via 40Ar/39Ar dating, surface exposure dating, and/or ion microprobe dating of zircons. The imminent arrival of an updated cryogenic magnetometer that has automated sample handling capabilities will provide the incumbent with rapid turnaround for sample analysis, creating the opportunity for multiple field iterations to constrain research hypotheses.
Proposed Duty Station: Menlo Park, CA
Areas of Ph.D.: Geology, geophysics, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines but with knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).
Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geologist; Research Geophysicist; Research Physical Scientist
(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources Specialist.)
Physical/Environmental Demands: Work is performed in office, laboratory, and field settings:
- Office work includes primarily work at a computer in an office or conference room.
- Laboratory work involves use of a rock saw and drill press in a laboratory designed for cutting and preparing rocks. Safety precautions include eye and ear protection and typical care around working machinery. Use of the magnetometer takes place in the paleomagnetism laboratory on the USGS campus in Menlo Park CA where it is operated by computer control.
- Field work may require strenuous hikes across uneven terrain carrying weights up to 50 pounds, sometimes under adverse weather conditions, typically accompanied by a field assistant. Samples are collected using a specially-designed rock drill powered by a chain saw motor that runs on gasoline. Access to field sites requires driving a 4WD vehicle on back roads. The employee applies a wide range of safety precautions when controlled conditions deteriorate due to unforeseen conditions or previously unknown risks.
Occasional travel - Overnight travel of 1 to 5 nights per month may be required.
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This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/515820700. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.